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What are PFAS, and how can they affect you?

On Behalf of | Nov 28, 2022 | Environmental Law

California is a state that is known for fighting environmental injustices. PFAS are among the most hazardous chemicals around, but they are still being used in many consumer goods. It’s crucial to know what they are and how they can affect people and the environment.

Understanding PFAS

PFAS is the acronym for polyfluoroalkyl substances, which are toxic chemicals that are found in many everyday products. Typically, they are used in nonstick cookware, food packaging and waterproof jackets. However, the substances are also found in cleaning products, cosmetics and other personal care products and don’t easily break down. As a result, they can remain in the environment and human body over the long term and cause adverse effects. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 95% of Americans’ bodies contain PFAS.

How PFAS causes harm

Although manufacturers of PFAS have long hidden the chemicals’ adverse effects, studies have uncovered how they can cause human and environmental harm. Some have revealed a direct relationship between PFAS and various types of cancer and hormone disruption. Other studies have shown the link between drinking water contaminated by PFAS and a variety of severe medical problems. It’s also been uncovered that high levels of PFAS in the body can decrease the effectiveness of vaccines and weaken the immune system.

Among the most common ways people are exposed to these chemicals is through their drinking water. It’s found in the tap water and groundwater of millions of people across the country. Throughout history, PFAS were used by the military and firefighting industry for training purposes. The foam used contained the toxic substances, leading to them seeping out and into water sources.

With these facts out in the open, many companies have eliminated PFAS from their products and packaging. More action is needed to protect the environment and those who are impacted by these toxins.